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Guide to pricing United Airlines award flights (No award chart? No problem!)

Million Mile Secrets logo Million Mile Secrets 3/4/2021 Joseph Hostetler
a group of people swimming in a body of water: Maldives © Provided by Million Mile Secrets Maldives

You can find fantastic value when you redeem United Airlines miles for free airfare. Many of us on the MMS team prefer using United Airlines miles because they never add fuel surcharges to award tickets—even when you use United Airlines miles to fly one of their many partners. Contrast that with some airlines that charge hundreds of dollars.

a group of people swimming in a body of water © Provided by Million Mile Secrets

There are a large number of United Airlines credit cards, so the miles are easy to earn. But to get the most out of United Airlines miles, it’s important to understand how award seats are priced and where the sweet spots are. That way, you’ll get the best deals and avoid spending more miles than you ought. I’ll explain how United prices its awards and point out some of the best uses for your miles.

© Provided by Million Mile Secrets Use your United miles to fly to colorful Buenos Aires! Here’s what you need to know about the United Airlines award chart (or lack thereof). (Photo by Milosz Maslanka/Shutterstock).

United Airlines award chart

Since it’s wordy, let me clarify, this award chart is just for United miles on United Airlines flights. I cannot stress enough that these are rough estimates – United does not publish an award chart – these are general prices when searching for your United flights, to help you plan for your upcoming free travel. 

table © Provided by Million Mile Secrets

How to use United Airlines miles without an award chart

Again, United Airlines doesn’t publish award charts. That means the price can be anything United wants it to be.

United has a long list of Star Alliance partner airlines:

  • Adria
  • Aegean
  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • Air India
  • Air New Zealand
  • ANA
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Austrian
  • Avianca
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Copa Airlines
  • Croatia Airlines
  • EgyptAir
  • Ethiopian
  • EVA Air
  • LOT Polish Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • SAS
  • Shenzhen Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • Swiss
  • TAP Air Portugal
  • Thai
  • Turkish Airlines

Additionally, United has a few non-alliance partners:

  • Aer Lingus
  • Aeromar
  • Air Dolomiti
  • Azul
  • Boutique Air
  • Cape Air
  • Edelweiss Air
  • Eurowings
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Olympic Air
  • Silver Airways

You’ll be able to redeem your United miles with any of United’s Star Alliance or non-alliance partners listed above. And since United has so many partners, you’ll have a ton of flexibility when it comes to using your miles.

United Airlines miles award prices will depend on a couple of things:

  1. What class of service and pricing tier?
  2. Where will you be flying?

I’ll explain these individually.

1. Will you be flying in coach, business class, or first class?

You’re looking at different prices depending on the class of service you want to fly. Once you’ve decided, you’ll be presented with two pricing tiers:

  • Saver
  • Everyday

Saver awards run out much faster than Everyday awards, but they cost a lot less. On partner airlines, you will generally either see Saver availability or no availability.

It’s best to avoid redeeming your miles for Everyday awards because they cost quite a bit more than Saver awards. However, if you have last-minute travel or no flexibility, Everyday awards might be your only option. Check out the difference between the below business class Saver Award and Everyday Award from San Francisco to Dubai. An Everyday Award is almost 100,000 miles pricier!

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2. When and where will you be flying?

The final step to figuring out how much you are going to be charged is based on where you are going. As United has obliterated any and all award charts, you’ll have to literally enter your exact desired flights for dates you want to fly — prices may vary by the day. Fortunately, at this time, several partner award flights tend to stick around the same price as United’s old partner award chart, depending on your origin and destination.

a group of people swimming in a body of water © Provided by Million Mile Secrets Use United miles to fly to the Maldives and relax in an idyllic overwater bungalow. (Photo by Siraphob Werakijpanich/Shutterstock)

How to best earn United Airlines miles with cards

You can find great award flight deals if you’re flexible with your travel dates. United miles are easy to earn with great intro bonuses that come with many of the best credit cards for travel, including:

  • United℠ Explorer Card – Earn up to 65,000 bonus miles. Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open. Plus, earn an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 total on purchases in the first six months your account is open.
  • United Club℠ Infinite Card – 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card – 60,000 bonus points (which transfer to United at a 1:1 ratio) after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening

The above cards are some of the best airline credit cards, and the fastest ways to earn United miles. There are several little-known sweet spots using United Airlines miles. While no award price is a guarantee (since United Airlines has transitioned to dynamic pricing), you can often find deals such as:

  • 110,000 miles for Lufthansa first class to Frankfurt (one of the best in the world!)
  • 17,500 United Airlines miles for one-way coach flights from North America to Central America
  • Lots of available award seats to Oceania for 35,000 United Airlines miles
  • Crazy fun United international stopovers to save potentially ~20,000 miles

Bottom line

United doesn’t have an award chart – but we’ve got an “unofficial” chart that’ll at least help you in your award flight planning process.

You can receive extremely high United Airlines miles value when redeeming for several sweet spots, like discounted pricing on short-haul flights outside North America. You’ll never pay fuel surcharges, even on partner airlines. Read our United MileagePlus review for more details.

You can earn United Airlines miles by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points from cards like Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, or earn them directly from cards like the United℠ Explorer Card.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

a close up of a sign: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card © Provided by Million Mile Secrets Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card APPLY NOW

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases.

  • 2X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.

  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.

  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.

  • Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services.

Intro APR on purchases

N/A

Regular APR

15.99%-22.99% Variable

Annual Fee

$95

Balance Transfer Fee

Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

Rates & Fees Annual Fee $95 Other Credit Needed Excellent / Good Issuer Chase Card Type Visa

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